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is "not an essential element," and some has interpreted that as the white house distancing itself and trying to prepare everyone for the notion that health care reform might not include a public option. but for those of us that hang on every word, that's not altogether surprising. this co-op idea is the one a lot of us expected to come out of the senate finance committee and be part of any bipartisan deal that would be struck. >> but the bottom line is that the senate won't go for the public option and the house says, at least, that it won't go for anything that does not include the public option. clearly, they may say that this is not, quote, new, but all the signals are that they are ready to start inching towards a compromise. >> well, it will be really interesting. it sets up quite the battle in conference committee. and i think we all knew that was coming. the senate finance committee, if a bipartisan deal really happens, and i think we all know the public option is not going to be a part of that deal. then you wonder what will happen in the house. i think the smart money is that the house is more likely to pass something with a public option.
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if the bipartisan idea falls apart and this becomes a democratic-only bill, then i think the public option starts to get a little more momentum again. i think that's really the issue. by the way, i should mention, as you well know, andrea, it's not just a matter of republicans not wanting this government-sponsored insurance plan as a part of reform, it's conservative democrats too. so that's the issue. but now, of course, the president is getting heat from the left side of the party, who really think the public option is the only way to reform. it did not include it, means they're not doing reform in any serious way. >> exactly. we'll hear from all sides of the debate as we continue this hour. thank you, savannah, for setting it up for us. the public option continues to be one of the most controversial topics at those town halls across the country. today there was a rare bipartisan town hall meeting in texas. congressman pete sessions made it clear what he thinks of government involvement in health care. >> congressman sessions. >> well, i will call it socialized medicine, because that's exactly what it is.
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i'm sorry? >> it's better than nothing. >> well, you said i could call -- you said people could call it what they choose to. >> joining me now, fresh from that town hall meeting, republican congressman sessions. your partner in that meeting, of course, was congresswoman eddie bernice johnson. and the fact is, congressman, what would you care medicare? is that socialized medicine? >> what i would call medicare is where people buy into -- pay into a system throughout their life and it is a government-run program that is going bankrupt that is a real problem, not only in paying physicians, but in getting the services that people really need. it works. the bottom line is that this obama plan would take $500 billion out of that plan to fund this other system, and that's
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the problem. seniors need to make sure that they have a secure system with the knowledge that members of congress can make wise decisions about public policy to support the plan that they're on. and this would exacerbate that towards bankruptcy. >> congressman, what do you think of the plan for co-ops? would that be an acceptable substitute for you? something that is now being worked on in the senate finance committee? >> well, i think to say, for me, i would say no. i would say, for efficiency and effectiveness and to be a model that works, i would also say no. they are so small, and they would work in a small way within state lines, when, in fact, we need larger pools of people to be able to be cost efficient. and this is where the president needs to understand that we should change the tax laws to give every individual the opportunity and advantages that people who work for corporations have. if you do that, you change the equation of who can buy these
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larger health care plans and insurance that work for everybody. >> but what would you do for people who don't -- who are not employed? all of those people who wouldn't be able to buy into something? changing the tax law doesn't help people who are not employed or don't pay taxes? >> andrea, i do know that is a good question, but it takes care of the vast number. of the 47 million people who don't have insurance, a huge number of them are self-employed and would like opportunity to have some kind of a health care plan. if you give them the tax advantages to where they are paying for their health care on a pretax basis, that dwindles down the number from the 47 million who are dealing with fewer people. one of the problems with the obama plan is it takes the 200 plus million people and puts them in the same boat as the other 12 million to 15 million that you are in reference to that may not have, currently
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have a job or the ability to pay for insurance. it should be done in reverse. we should do every single thing we can to take people to be a part of a free market health care plan, where these plans are larger, bigger, and deal with the two problems. the problem of wellness and how we get people to be well and to keep them healthy and then chronic illnesses. chronic illnesses are a problem and a health care plan can do that by having your physician work with you for the individual to be healthy. >> all right. congressman sessions, thank you so much for joining us from dallas, texas. now we go to phoenix, arizona. the president is about to address the veterans of foreign war. we understand he will speak about health care as well, of course, speaking about the wars in iraq and afghanistan, where there are crucial elections this week. let's listen to the president. >> i want to also acknowledge gene gardner and sharon tradewell as well as dixey hills and jan title and all the
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spouses and family of the ladies auxiliary. america honors your service as well. also, governor jan brewer is here of arizona. and mayor phil gordon, our host, here in phoenix. i want too acknowledge president dr. joe shirley jr., president of the navajo nation. and this wasn't on my original card, but this is just an extraordinary story and you may have already heard from her, but i want to publicly acknowledge and thank mrs. helen denton, the secretary to dwight eisenhower who typed up the orders for the normandy invasion and is here today and what an extraordinary story that is. so -- [ applause ]
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members of the veterans of foreign wars, i am honored and humbled to stand before you as commander in chief of the finest military the world has ever known. we're joined by some of those who make it the finest force in the world. from luke air force base, members of the 56th fighter wing. whether you wear the uniform today or wore it decades ago, you remind us of a fundamental truth. it's not the powerful weapons that make our military the strongest in the world, it's not the sophisticated system that make us the most advanced.
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the true strength of our military lies in the spirit and skill of our men and women in uniform. and you know this. you know this because it's the story of your lives. when fascism seemed unstoppable and our harbor was bombed, you battled across rocky pacific islands and stormed the beaches of europe, marching across a continent. my own grandfather and uncle among your ranks, liberating millions and turning enemies into allies. when communists cast its shadow across so much of the globe, you stood vigilant in a long, cold war, from an airlift in berlin to the mountains of korea to the jungles of vietnam. when that cold war ended and old hatreds emerged anew, you turned back aggressions from kuwait to
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kosovo. and long after you took off the uniform, you continued to serve, supporting our families and our troops when they go to war and welcoming them when they come home. working to give our veterans the care they deserve. and when america's heroes are laid to rest, giving every one of them that final fitting triple of a grateful nation. we can never say it enough. for your service in war and peace, thank you vfw. thank you. [ applause ] >> today, the story of your service is carried on by a new generation, dedicated, courageous men and women who i have the privilege to lead and meet every day. they're the young sailors, the midshipman at the naval academy who raised their right hand at graduation and committed themselves to a life of service. they're the soldiers i met in
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baghdad who have done their duty, year after year, on a second, third, or fourth tour. they're the marines of camp lejeune, preparing to deploy and now serving in afghanistan to protect americans here at home. they're the airmen, like those here today, who pride the close air support that saves the lives of our troops on the ground. and they're the wounded warriors at walter reed and bethesda and across america, for whom the battle is not to fight, but simply to speak, to stand, to walk once more. they're the families that my wife, michelle, has met at bases across the country and the spouses back home doing the parenting of two, the children who wonder when mom and dad may be coming home, the parents who watch their sons and daughters go off to war, and the families who lay a loved one to rest and the pain that lasts a lifetime.
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to all those who have served america, our forces, your families, our veterans, you have done your duty. you have fulfilled your responsibilities, and now a grateful nation must fulfill ours. and that is what i want to talk about today. first, we have a solemn responsibility to always lead our men and women in uniform wisely. and that starts with a vision of american leadership that recognizes that military power alone cannot be the first or only answer to the threats facing our nation. in recent years, our troops have succeeded in every mission america has given them, from toppling the taliban to deposing a dictator in iraq, to battling brutal insurgencies. at the same time, forced trained for war have been called upon to perform a whole host of missions. like mayors, they've run local
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governments and delivered water and electricity. like aid workers, they've mentored farmers and built new schools. like diplomats, they've negotiated agreements with tribal sheiks and local leaders. but let us never forget, we are a country of more than 300 million americans. less than 1% wears the uniform. and that 1%, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine, and coast guardsmen have borne the overwhelming burden of our security. in fact, perhaps never in american history have so few protected so many. so the responsibility for our security must not be theirs alone. and that's why i've made it a priority to enlist all elements of our national power in defense of our national security. our diplomacy and development, our economic might, and our moral example. because one of the best ways to lead our troops wisely is to prevent the conflicts that cost
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american blood and treasure tomorrow. as president, my greatest responsibility the security and safety of the american people. as i've said before, that is the first thing i think about when i wake up in the morning and the last thing that i think about when i go to sleep at night. and i will not hesitate to use force to protect the american people or our vital interests. but as we protect america, our men and women in uniform must always be treated as what they are. america's most precious resource. as commander in chief, i have a slem responsibility for their safety. and there's nothing more sobering than signing a letter of condolence to the family of servicemen or women who have given their lives for our country. and that's why i've made this pledge to our armed forces. i will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely
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necessary. and when i do, it will be based on good sblenintelligence and g by a sound strategy. i will give you a clear mission, defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. that's my commitment to you. which brings me to our second responsibility tour armed forces, giving them the strategies to compete their missions. we need to keep our military the best trained, the best led, fighting force in the world. and that's why even with our current economic challenges, my budget increases defense spending. we will ensure that we have the force structure to meet today's missions. and that's why we've increased the size of the army and the marine corps two years ahead of schedule and have approved another temporary increase in the army. and we've halted personnel
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reductions in the navy and air force. this will give our troops more time home from deployments, which means less stress on families and more training for the next mission. and it will help us put an end, once and for all, to stop loss for those who have done their duty. we will equip our forces with the assets and technologies they need to fight and win. so my budget funds more of the army helicopters, crews, and pilots urgently needed in afghanistan. the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance that gives our troops the advantage. the special operations forces that can deploy on a moment's notice. and for all those serving in afghanistan and iraq, including our national guard and reserve, more of the protective gear and armored vehicles that save lives.
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now, as we fight in two wars, we will plan responsibly, budget honestly, and speak candidly about the cost and consequences of our actions. and that's why i've made sure my budget include the costs of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. in iraq, after more than six years, we took an important step forward in june. we transferred control of all cities and towns to iraq's security forces. the transition to full iraqi responsibility for their own security is now under way. this progress is a testament to all those who have served in iraq, both uniformed and civilian, and our nation owes these americans and all who have given their lives a profound debt of gratitude. now, as iraqis take control of
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their destiny, they will be tested and targeted. those who seek to sew sectarian division will attempt more senseless bombings and killing of innocence. this we know. but as we move forward, the iraqi people must know that america will keep its commitments and the american people must know we will keep our strategy. we will remove all our combat brigades by the end of august and remove all of our troops from iraq by the end of 2011. and for america, the iraq war will end. by moving forward in iraq, we're able to refocus on the war against al qaeda and its extremist allies in afghanistan and pakistan. that's why i announced a new comprehensive strategy in march. a strategy that recognizes that al qaeda and its allies had moved their base from the remote
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tribal areas -- to the remote tribal areas of pakistan. this strategy acknowledges that military power alone will not win this war. that we also need diplomacy and good governments. and our new strategy has a new mission and defined goals. to disrupt this mantel and defeat al qaeda and its extremist allies. in the months since, we have begun to put in comprehensive strategy into action. in recent weeks, we've seen our troops do their part. they've gone into new areas, taking the fight to the taliban in villages and towns where residents have been terrorized for years. they're adapting new tactics, knowing that it's not enough to kill extremists and terrorists, we also need to protect the afghan people and improve their daily lives. and today, our troops are helping to secure polling places for this week's election so that afghans can choose the future that they want. now, these new efforts have not been without a price.
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the fighting has been fierce. more americans have given their lives. and as always, the thoughts and prayers of every american are with those who make the ultimate sacrifice in our defense. as i said when i announced this strategy, there will be more difficult days ahead. the insurgency in afghanistan didn't just happen overnight and we won't defeat it overnight. this will not be quick, nor easy. but we must never forget, this is not a war of choice. this is a war of necessity. those who attacked america on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. if left unchecked, the taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al qaeda would plot to kill more americans. so this is not only a war worth fighting, this is fundamental to the defense of our people. going forward, we will constantly adapt to new tactics to stay ahead of the enemy and
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give our troops the tools and equipment they need to succeed. and at every step of the way, we will assess our efforts to defeat al qaeda and extremist allies and to help the afghan and pakistani people build the future that they seek. now, even as we lead and equip our troops for the missions of today, we have a third responsibility to fulfill. we must prepare our forces for the missions of tomorrow. our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marine, and coast guardsmen adapt to new challenges every day. but as we know, much of our defense establishment has yet to fully adapt to the post cold war world, with doctrine and weapons better suited to fight the soviets on the planes of europe than insurgents in the rugged terrain offing afghanistan. 20 years after the cold war ended, this is simply not acceptable. it's irresponsible. our troops and our taxpayers
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deserve better. and that's why -- that's why our defense review is taking a top-t top-to-bottom look at our posture, rethinking old dogmas and challenging the status quo. we're asking hard questions about the forces we need and the weapons we buy. and when we're finished, we'll have a new blueprint for the 21st century military that we need. in fact, we're already on our way. we're adopting new concepts, because the full spectrum of challenges demands a full range of military capabilities. both the conventional and the unconvention unconventional. the ability to defeat both an armored division and the lone suicide bomber. the intercontinental ballistic missile and the improvised electric device. no matter the mission, we must maintain america's military dominance.
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so even as we modernize our conventional forces, we're investing in the capabilities that will reorient our forces to the future. an army that's more possibly and exme denture. an air force that dominates the air space with next generation aircraft, both manned and unmanned. a marine corps that can move ashore more rapidly in more places. and across the force, we're investing in new skills and specialties, because in the 21st century, military strength will be measured not only by the weapons our troops carry, but by the languages they speak and the cultures they understand. but here's the simple truth. we cannot build the 21st military we need and maintain the fiscal responsibilities that america demands unless we fundamentally reform the way our defense establishment does
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business. it's a simple fact. every dollar wasted in our defense budget is a dollar we can't spend to care for our troops or protect america or prepare for the future. you've heard the stories. the indefensible no-bid contract that costs taxpayers billions and make contractors rich. the special interests and their exotic projects that are years behind schedule and billions over budget. the entrenched lobbyists pushing weapons that even our military says it doesn't want. the impulse in washington to project jobs back home, building things we don't need has a cost that we can't afford. this waste would be unacceptable at any time, but at a time when we're fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, it's inexcusable. it's an affront to the american people and to our troops and it's time for it to stop. this is not a democratic issue or a republican issue.
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this is not a democratic issue or a republican issue, it's about giving our troops the support that they need. and that's something that all americans should be able to agree to. so i'm glad i have as a partner in this effort, a great veteran, a great arizona books, and a great american who has shown the courage to stand and fight this waste, senator john mccain. and i'm also proud to have secretary of defense, robert gates, who has served under eight presidents of both parties leading this fight at the pentagon. so already i've put an end to unnecessary no-bid contracts. i've signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement, so weapons systems don't spin out of control. and even as we increase spending on the equipment and weapons our troops do need, we've proposed cutting tens of billions of dollars in waste we don't need. think about it, hundreds of millions of dollars for an
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alternate second engine for the joint strike fighter when one reliable engine will do just fine. nearly $2 billion to buy more f-22 fighter jets when we can move ahead with a fleet of newer, more affordable aircraft. tens of billions of dollars to put an anti-missile laser on a fleet of vulnerable 747s. and billions of dollars for a new presidential helicopter. now, maybe you've heard about this. among its other capabilities, it would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack. let me tell you something. if the united states of america is under nuclear attack, the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack. so this is pretty straightforward. cut the waste, save taxpayer dollars, support the troops. that's what we should be doing.
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[ applause ] the special interests, contractors, and entrenched lobbyists are putting up a fight, but make no mistake, so are we. if a project does not support our troops, if it does not make america safer, we will not fund it. and if congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, i will veto it. we will do right by our troops and taxpayers and we will build the 21st military that we need. [ applause ] finally, we will fulfill our responsibility to those who serve by keeping our promises to our people. we will fulfill our responsibility to our forces and our families. that's why we're increasing military pay. that's why we're building better family housing and funding more child care and counseling to help families cope with the
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stresses of war. and we've changed the rule so military spouses can better compete for federal jobs and pursue their careers. we will fulfill our responsibility to our wounded warriors, for those still in uniform, we're investing billions of dollars for more treatment centers, more case managers, and better medical care so our troops can recover and return where to be, with their units. but as the vfw well knows, for so many veterans, the war rages on. the flashbacks that won't go away, the loved ones who now seem like strangers, the heavy darkness of depression that has led to too many of our troops taking their own lives. posttraumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are the defining injuries of today's wars. so caring for those affected by them is a defining purpose of my budget. billions of dollars more for
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treatment of mental health screenings to reach our troops, on the front lines and more mobile and rural clinics to region veterans back home. we are not going to abandon these american heroes. we are going to do right by them. we will fulfill our responsibility to our veterans as they return to civilian life. i was proud to cosponsor the post-9/11 gi bill as a senator. thanks to vfw members across the country and leaders like arizona's harry mitchell in congress, it is now the law of the land. and as president, i'm going to see it's successfully implemented. like my grandfather, the original gi bill changed your
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life, helping to transform your dreams. but it also transformed america, building the largest middle class in history. you pick the school, we'll help pick up bill. and as -- -- and as these veterans start showing up on campuses, i'm proud that we're making that opportunity available to all those who have sacrificed, including reservist and national guard members and spouses and children, including kids who have lost their mom or dad. in an era when so many people and institutions have acted irresponsibly, we choose to reward the responsibility and service of our forces and their families. whether you've left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned. and that's why i've pledged to
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build nothing less than a 21st century va. and i picked a lifelong soldier and wounded warrior from vietnam to lead this fight, general rick shinseki. we're dramatically increasing funding for veterans' health care. this includes hundreds of millions of dollars to include veterans in rural areas, including the unique needs of our growing number of women veterans. we're restoring access to va health care for half a million veterans who lost their eligibility in recent years, our priority eight veterans. and since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this. one thing reform won't change is veterans' health insurance. no one is going to take away your benefits. that is the plain and simple truth. we're expanding access to your
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health care, not reducing it. [ applause ] we're also keeping our promise on concurrent receipt. my budget ensures that our severely disabled veterans will receive both their military retired pay and their va disability benefits. and i look forward to signing legislation on advanced appropriations for the va so the medical care you need is never held up by budget delays. >> i've also directed secretary shinseki to focus on a top priority. reducing homelessness among veterans. after serving their country, no veteran should be sleeping on the streets. no veteran. we should have zero tolerance for that. and we're keeping our promise to
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fulfill another top priority at the va, cutting the red tape and inefficiencies that cause blogs and delays in the claims process. this spring, i directed the departments of defense and veterans affairs to create one unified lifetime electronic health record for the members of the armed forces, a single electronic record with privacy guaranteed that will save with them forever. because after fighting for america, you should not have to fight over paperwork to receive the benefits that you've earned. today, i can announce that we're taking another step. i've directed my chief performance officer, my chief technology officer, and my chief information officer to join with secretary shinseki in a new reform effort. we're launching a new competition to capture the very best ideas of our va employees that work with you every day.
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we're going to challenge each of our 57 regional va offices to come up with the best ways of doing business, of harnessing the best information and technologies, of cutting red tape and breaking through the bureaucracy. and then we're going to find the best ideas and put them into action. all with a simple mission. cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner. i know you've heard this for years, but the leadership and resources we're providing this time means that we're going to be able to do it. that is our mission and we are going to make it happen. [ applause ] now, taken together, these investments represent a historic increase in our commitment to america's veterans. a 15% increase over last year's funding levels and the largest increase in the va budget in more than 30 years. and over the next five years, we'll invest another $25 billion to make sure that our veterans
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are getting what they need. these are major investments and these are difficult times. fiscal discipline demands that we make hard decisions, sacrificing certain things we can't afford. but let me be clear. america's commitment to its veterans are not just lines on a budget. they are bonds that are sacred. a sacred trust we're honor bound to uphold. these are commitments that we make to the patriots who serve from the day they enlist to the day that they are laid to rest. patriots like you. patriots like a man named jim nor noreen. his story is his own, but in it we see the larger story of all who served. he is a child of the depression that grew up to join that greats generation. a paratrooper in the 502nd parachute infantry regimen of
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the 101st airborne. jumping in a daring daylight raid into holland to liberate captive people. rushing at the battle of the bulge, where his commanding general surrounded by the germans and asked to surrender declared famously, none. for his braver, jim was awarded the bronze star. but like so many others, he rarely spoke of what he did or what he saw, reminding us that true love of country is not boisterous or loud, but rather, the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. jim returned home and built a life. he went to school on the gi bill. he got married. he raised a family in a small oregon farming town. and every veterans day, year after year, he visited schoolchildren to speak about the meaning of service. and he did it all as a proud member of the veterans of foreign wars.
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and then this spring, jim made a decision. he would return to europe once more. 85 years old, frail and gravely ill, he knew he might not make it back home. but like the paratrooper he always was, he was determined. so he returned to the place he knew so well. at a dutch town liberated by our gis, schoolchildren lined the sidewalks and sang "the star spangled banner," and we walked among that perfect line of white crosses of the fallen. and back where he had served 65 years before, jim noreen passed away at night in his sleep, quietly, peacefully, the tranquil, and steady dedication of a lifetime.
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the next day, i was privileged to join the commemoration of normandy to mark the day where the beaches were stormed and a continent was freed. there were presidents and prime ministers and veterans from the far corners of the earth. but long after the bands stopped playing and the crowds stopped cheering, it was the story of a departed vfw member that echoed in our hearts. veterans of foreign wars, you have done your duty to your fallen comrades, to your communities, to your country. you have always fulfilled your responsibilities to america and so long as i am president of the united states, america will always fulfill its responsibilities to you. god bless you! god bless all our veterans. and god bless the united states of america. thank you very much. >> president obama in phoenix in
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front of the veterans of foreign wars, some 5,700 strong at that convention today, turning to foreign policy, to iraq and to afghanistan, the military budget, threatening to vito any defense budget that still has pork. joining me now, nbc news terrorism analyst, roger cressey. roger, we've got an election coming up in afghanistan this week, two americans lost their lives only today, with one military, one civilian, and you had a debate last night with hamid karzai, being challenged by some of his competitors, lesser known competitors for his new allegiances with war lords. what is the prospect there for an election that the taliban is threatening to jeopardize by frightening people from going to the polls? >> well, the taliban's growing presence in the south and in the east presents a real problem for karzai, because most of his support comes from areas where the taliban are very strong right now. i think it's generally believed he will win a plurality, but it's unlikely he'll win a
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majority. and if the taliban are successful at disrupting some of the majority, there'll be a runoff in the fall. this will demonstrate to the afghan people that the taliban have even more influence. karzai certainly needs a peaceful election, both for his own succession, but also to demonstrate to the afghan people that things are much better than they were four years ago. but the problem is, most afghans wouldn't agree with that. >> and you've got him now realigning with the war lord and other war lords. so how is he a better alterna alternative for the u.s. to be supporting? >> the u.s. has had a very fitful relationship with karzai. there have been complaints about corruption, lack of supporting real strategicals that are in line with the real u.s. goals. and the bigger issue here is that afghanistan is not a centrally run nation. it is a nation of war lords of tribes. so what we're trying to do is create a central government here that is strong enough to do
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things that historically afghanistan has never been able to do. karzai is now cutting deals and alliances with people like rasheed who just came back into the country after self-imposed exile because they think he can deliver some votes that will put karzai over the top. he's mixing and matching his colig to try to get over that magic 50%. but i don't think it's going to happen tomorrow. >> and it's some unsavory people indeed. we see the taliban threatening to cut off the fingers of people who vote. so in some villages, they're telling reporters, they're not going to vote, because if they, you know, face these kinds of threat of physical abuse and terror threats from the taliban, they will stay home. and how can you blame them? >> that's exactly right. because the u.s. military presence there as grown in recent weeks and by the end of the year will be up to 68,000 and probably over 70,000 in 2010. but our presence there is not continuous in some of these
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small villages. people who want to vote don't feel safe and secure enough to go out there and take that risk, knowing at night the taliban will come in, identify who has voted, and kill them. >> roger cressey, i hope we'll be talking to you throughout the week as we watch these results and watch what the taliban does to try to prevent a fair vote. and coming up, will walking away from a government-run insurance program ignite a civil war between democrats? the liberal bloggers are sounding off. which one's me - a cool convertible or an suv? ♪ ♪ too bad i didn't know my credit was whack ♪ ♪ 'cause now i'm driving off the lot in a used sub-compact. ♪ ♪ f-r-e-e, that spells free credit report dot com, baby. ♪ ♪ saw their ads on my tv ♪ thought about going but was too lazy ♪ ♪ now instead of looking fly and rollin' phat ♪ ♪ my legs are sticking to the vinyl ♪ ♪ and my posse's getting laughed at. ♪ ♪ f-r-e-e, that spells free- credit report dot com, baby. ♪
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many liberals consider the government-run public option to be the hallmark of any presidential health care reform bill. by opening the door this weekend to the idea of health care co-ops instead, is the president igniting a civil war within his own party? joining me now, liberal blogger, jane hamshire, founder of
1:45 pm, sorry, having trouble with the eyes today. let's talk about what the president signaled and what kathleen sebelius signalled this weekend. they seem to be opening the door to these co-ops. is the co-op a viable enough option? >> well, look at it this way, andrea. 30 cents of every health care dollar spent in the country now goes to the insurance industry overhead. medicare actually has 2.5% overhead. so having a government-run plan for health care is essential to keeping health care costs down. and 76% of the country wants one, and it was a tent poll of the president's campaign. so i think it's more than just liberals that are concerned that this might be disappearing for a co-op plan that was essentially written by the insurance industry to protect its profits. >> but they would argue that supporters of co-ops said co-ops would also bring costs down. >> i don't think they've been able to show that yet.
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it's basically something that was written after the may 11th meeting at the white house, with pharma, the insurance industry, the hospital, the ama. where they presented their plan to the president. and subsequent to that, max baucus and kent conrad came up with the idea for co-ops that were the insurance industry approved public plan, in order to sort of answer the public's hunger to have an alternative. and they haven't been able to show that they could keep costs down. in fact, they were orchestrated to be state by state, so that there wouldn't be any central ability to negotiate for costs, like walmart does. >> kent conrad and other more conservative democrats who have been negotiating these compromises in senate finance say that there will be no bill if there's a public option. >> well, with 76% of the country in favor of it, you've got democrats like joe crowley, like charlie rangel, like ed markey who are going to have trouble going back to their districts who have 22% democratic
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advantage. >> you've got the house that's committed to this, that say they won't do anything if they don't have a public option, and you've got the senate saying, they won't do it if there is a public option. is there a compromise there that does involve these co-ops, or is it better to have nothing? >> the compromise is the public plan. that's the compromise down from single payer. so that is the middle ground. frankly, i would like to see democrats like evan bayh and like max baucus stand on the floor of the senate and filibuster the democratic program that 76% of the country and higher -- >>ion it's not going to happen. that's not where they are? >> why not? >> because that's not where they see their constituency. that's not where evan bayh sees more conservative democrats in his state of indiana? >> evan bayh's wife is on the board of wellpoint, so i think he's going to have a problem doing something that tanks the democratic plan, that strongly favors something that he has a financial interest in. there's a whole lot of insurance money going to these senators,
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and that's going to be something that people are going to be looking into if that's how this winds up. >> civil war? >> i think that there's going to be a problem. i think the white house did not factor in that members of the house would have a very difficult time in their heavily leaning democratic districts ta vote an there are enough of them that could keep this from passing without obama stepping in and committing to get the public plan he campaigned on. >> thank you. coming up, paying for health care. former director of the congressional budget office joins us. you're watching andr"andrea mitl report reports".
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welcome back. the white house met the backing away from that public option, but does that mean that the government is off the hook? not hardly. the co-op plan would still require 3 to $4 billion in initial support pr the government. the question of paying for it still on the table. joining us now from washington, the former director of the congressional budget office. thanks for joining us. what about the dollars and cents here? do you think a public co-op option or a semipublic option is a rational alternative to the public option? >> we know that the robust
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public option is not going to work. we saw that in the house version which the cbo put a price tag on and said it doesn't pay for itself over the first ten years. they're going to have to go to something that delivers pressure in insurance markets and gets at the underlying cost of care as well. it's the latter part that's been missing. >> do you think the senate compromise that max baucus is trying to come up with that the president and kathleen sebelius hinted at this weekend, might be an alternative. is something that would produce pressure to bring cost down? >> it might solve a political problem, but the real issue is that a public plan doesn't solve any real problems in the american health care system. one flavor of it, which favors to have these plans use medicare payment rates.
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that's part of our problem. we pay doctors on the volume produced. the other version says let's get something that competes. that begs the question, how to get good competition. we have insnurers who don't face enough competition. >> the other argument that some make is that the public plan would drive because it got subsidy and others, would drive the private insurers out of the business. >> that's a possibility. if you're subsidizing one competitor and not the other, you'll drive the other away. that doesn't solve a problem. what they really need is an approach that puts benefits on the table and pays for them. so far, we've seen a democratic congress willing to put benefits on the table, but can't pay for
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them. or, something that scaling back and does the reform level that gets us better service. >> to be continued. thank you very much. in the next 24 hours, the fight will be over this idea of a co-op plan versus a public plan and we'll be following all of that right here on andr"andrea mitchell reports". contessa brewer picks up our coverage next. you're watching msnbc, the place for politics. i had felt fine. but turns out... my cholesterol and other risk factors... increased my chance of a heart attack. i should've done something. now, i trust my heart to lipitor. when diet and exercise are not enough, adding lipitor may help. unlike some other cholesterol lowering medications, lipitor is fda approved to reduce the risk... of heart attack, stroke, and certain kinds of heart surgeries... in patients with several common risk factors... or heart disease. lipitor has been extensively studied... with over 16 years of research.
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the president has just wrapped up a speech, promising veterans their benefits will not train. in phoenix, another event to try to convince the doubters. >> voted for something -- barack obama is nothing more than than people facing their own desire to see. >> not just those protesters
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showing up at speeches and town halls. e-mailers are getting in on the action and the misinformation is going viral. we'll clear up the confusion. michael vick's looking for redemption. he's now ready to play football again. will his fans forgive him? maybe tom delay's looking for forgiveness, too. from corruption charges to "dancing with the stars"? more on that just ahead. this hour, the debate on one of the biggest points of contention. this weekend, president obama and his health and human services both suggested it would not be the deal breaker in once was, this public option, and that's touched out of a fire storm. a short time ago, the president assured veterans reform would not mean reduced benefits. >> so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this. one thing that reform won't change the veteran's health
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care. no one is going to take away your benefits. that is the plain and simple truth. >> chuck todd is in phoenix right now, where president obama has just finished speaking to veterans of foreign wars. what is the rowdy sound i'm hearing? >> it is health care demonstrators, both pro and con. it's funny. this speech is, was 90% about military policy, foreign policy, veterans affairs, yet outside, you would think you were coming to another health care town hall. >> all right, so let me ask you about this public option. kathle kathleen sebelius saying it was no an essential part of the bill. yet today, we're hearing from the white house nothing has changed. so does the president still think the public option is the best way

Andrea Mitchell Reports
MSNBC August 17, 2009 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT

News/Business. Interviews with political figures with host Andrea Mitchell.

TOPIC FREQUENCY America 20, Afghanistan 12, Us 8, Iraq 7, Phoenix 5, Taliban 5, Va 4, U.s. 4, Honda 4, Max Baucus 3, Europe 3, Arizona 3, Evan Bayh 3, Roger Cressey 2, Kathleen Sebelius 2, At&t 2, Honda Cr-v 2, Obama 2, Karzai 2, Lipitor 2
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